Election 2020

Myanmar’s Military Chief Urges Personnel to Vote for ‘Correct Candidates’

By San Yamin Aung 24 August 2020

YANGON — Myanmar’s military chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, has cautioned his personnel against voting for the wrong candidates in the November general election, saying it will harm the country.

“Candidates that you support should be the ones who will benefit the country. If you make the wrong choice, it will be harm the country,” Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing told a ceremony honoring military doctors who have worked for two years at hospitals in the remote Naga self-administered zone and Chin State.

He told the attendees in Naypyitaw to assess the records of governments led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Union Solidarity and Development (USDP) and vote for those capable of serving the country.

“You guys have higher IQ and EQ [emotional intelligence] than others. So explain to other voters how to understand this,” he said.

When choosing the “correct candidate”, the military chief referred to the six points he mentioned to political parties on August 14.

During the meeting with 34 parties — most of them pro-military parties and USDP allies — Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing called good candidates those who would work for their constituents and the country, maintain the national interest and understand the military role in national politics and respect race and religion while being free from foreign influence.

It is hard to find candidates who meet all six points, the army chief told military personnel yet they should look for those who fulfill as many characteristics as possible.

When Myanmar goes to the polls on Nov. 8, military personnel and their relatives for the first time will vote at polling stations outside their compounds as Parliament abolished military polling stations to increase transparency.

During the 2010 and 2015 general elections and 2012, 2017 and 2018 by-elections, votes were cast at polling stations inside military property under the watchful eyes of superior officers.

But where bases are far from civilian areas, polling stations will operate on military land, Union Election Commission’s (UEC) spokesman U Myint Naing told The Irrawaddy recently.

The abolition of military polling this year raised hopes that personnel will be free to pick candidates of their choice. But observers have raised concerns that military voters will be intimidated into voting for a specific party and the location of the polling stations is irrelevant.

The military has an estimated 500,000 personnel. When relatives are added, there are over 1 million military-affiliated voters. The UEC recently declined to provide The Irrawaddy the number of registered military voters ahead of the Nov. general election.

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